BOAT TEST: GRADY WHITE JOURNEY 258

By: David Lockwood, Photography by: John Ford


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The Grady Whites are the executives of sportsfishers, stamped with excellent longevity, resale value, seriously good engineering, construction and consideration for safety. David Lockwood takes the Journey 258 for a test in the rough stuff

BOAT TEST: GRADY WHITE JOURNEY 258
GRADY WHITE JOURNEY 258

As one of America's most revered sportsfishers, Grady White has long prided itself on building super seaworthy, safe and satisfying sportsfishers. Thank heavens for that, as this was very much the acid test, with four-metre seas and a four-metre swell rising to dangerous surf conditions.

Such was the state of the sea, we didn't need to venture much beyond Sydney Heads to nail this boat test. Fortunately, while the fishing intent is obvious on the Journey 258, there are plenty of cruising comforts to satisfy the recreational boater and his or her family.
Indeed, I got the impression that this Grady White walkaround isn't a boat that you drive headlong into the rough stuff and hang on with white knuckles, but something you might cruise in while seated at a comfortable low-20kts. Gentlemanly, refined and well suited to those of us who have outgrown the centre-console stage.
Meantime, you might have seen Grady Whites on our waterways before, since the badge has made a showing at various times in the past. The recent good news is it's now being relaunched with much greater local representation and established dealerships on both east and west coasts.
But unlike some of its competitors, Grady White remains a family-owned business. It was started in 1959 by Glen Grady and Don White, bought by Eddie Smith in 1968, who turned it into a serious production fibreglass boatbuilder, whereupon a steady stream of outboard-powered centre console and walkaround sportsfishers soon rolled out the doors.

 

 

BUILT TOUGH


Built from handlaid fibreglass, Grady White hulls feature a foam-filled stringer system and sub-cockpit grid system for stiffness; alloy-braced transoms to cope with the load of big outboard power; through-bolted hulls, decks and liners for a one-piece or monologue structure; and closed-cell foam flotation for unsinkability (termed basic flotation on this 258 Journey). This latter point was something I didn't have to test.
As for the so-called SeaV2 hull, it's basically a variable deadrise configuration ranging from 20 degrees - which equates to a fairly deep vee - at the transom through 30 degrees amidships to a much sharper entry. A series of wedges, strakes and chines help provide lift and directional stability.
As every Grady White is designed and pre-rigged from the outset for four-stroke outboards that means good holeshot or acceleration too. In other words, the boats have been designed around specific powerplants, not built regardless and have a motor thrown on.
Then there is that other 'small' boat essential - storage. Knowing anglers' penchant for packing a tackle-shop worth of gear aboard, Grady White provides somewhere to stow it all in its generous self-draining working cockpits. On the Journey 258 you can easily fish a team of four anglers.
The keel-up design, with numerous hatches built into the liner, integrated plumbing and deck mouldings, is focussed on serious fishing but, it should be said, family boating too. The walkaround models with cabins offer an especially good spread of creature comforts.

 

 

THE JOURNEY


A maxi trailerboat that, with fuel, tips the scales to just under the 3500kg towing limit on its aluminium trailer, the 258 Journey is at once a big little boat and a little big boat. Sporting twin 2.67lt Yamaha Saltwater Series 150hp four-stroke outboards, with 25in extra-long shafts and spinning 19in stainless steel props, it's also very much the long-range boat.
Offshore ability is improved by the addition of an optional long-range fuel tank. The standard-issue 480lt fuel tank is boosted by the addition of a secondary 155lt tank, giving a safe operating range from the 635lt supply and twin in-line four-cylinder Yammies of, well, as far as you can fish within a weekend of home.
Another thing you might notice is the Journey's super stability. Though it measures a not inconsiderable 7.57m (25ft) long, it has a comparatively narrow 2.55m beam (8ft 6in as per most American trailerboats). So, stability is more a result of the low centre of gravity, with the fuel amidships where you want it, but also weight savings by way of resin-transfer or injection moulded hatch lids and optional hardtop.
That hardtop is listed as an option on the 258 Journey but it makes this boat a true offshore all-weather fishing machine. Along with sun protection, you get weather protection from the clear curtains, plus additional rod storage in the rocket launcher, four clear-away rodholders, a mounting place for aerials and (spot)lights, a large zip-up dry lifejacket or wet-weather jacket pocket, and a pair of optional 15ft alloy outriggers with snap-lock Taco Grand Slam bases on the test boat.
With all that gear, the Journey 258 looks keen, if not traditional and timeless. At rest and underway, its dryness is helped by a raised sheerline and a good buoyant bow with some signature homespun Carolina flare.
Back aft, the twin-rig transom is especially supportive of the 424kg of twin four-stroke outboards. In fact, it's so buoyant that the boat barely shifts with anglers in the cockpit and, when reversing, it lifts up nicely over the waves rather than burying. 
The Journey 258 also has a decent cabin that, although flanked by walkarounds, leans more towards providing accommodation than fish-around space. Access is still nice, safe and supportive when heading to the bow, but it's a foot-over-foot passage.
Clearly given the leg room, the foredeck is meant for attending anchoring duties (optional windlass fitted to this boat) more than anything else. A removable padded cushion is provided to improve your comfort during fleeting visits. The pulpit was another option.

 

 

FISHING FEATURES


Padded bolsters (optional) trace the sizeable cockpit, there is toe-under support and a good grade of non-skid underfoot. Besides a swim ladder and scope to mount a berley pot, there is a decent deadbait storage bin built into the transom. The recessed battery-management panel at foot level keeps the cockpit clean, while the fold down aft lounge caters for family outings.
The rod holder arrangement is a little different, but I can see it working well. There are two in-transom aft-facing holders and four heavy-duty holders in the broad gunwales. Elsewhere, there are recessed heavy-duty through-bolted cleats and big-boat fittings, like the catch on the marlin door, and a powerful raw-water washdown for cleanups.
Under each coaming you also get three gaff, tagpole or rod racks, in addition to the 10 carry spots around the T-top. So throw as many fishing rods aboard as you wish.

 

 

HELM STATION


The beautiful Pompanette helm seats with folding armrests are mounted on a raised bridgedeck that improves views. The portside of co-pilot seatbox harbours a livebait tank with 128lt capacity plumbed to a powerful 4000lt/h raw-water pump, while the helm seatbox is an insulated fish box with 150lt capacity and overboard drain.
The removable upholstered tops on the boxes let them double as impromptu seats, and grabrails are provided where you intuitively reach for them around the helm and where crew might ride on their feet back aft. Twin wipers improve seated vision at the helm.
Mounting space for electronics exists in an overhead radio box and in a waterproof box built into the dash. Owners have different preferences, hence no fish-finding gadgetry was fitted.
Besides twin multi-function Yamaha outboard gauges, there are dual Yamaha throttles with separate and joint trim buttons, trim tabs, windlass and lighting switches, footrests and a serious stainless steel saltwater wheel linked to Seastar hydraulic steering.

 

 

CABIN CAPERS


Well-vented via opening windows and the requisite escape hatch, the cabin on the Journey 258 is big enough to stow away for the night. The boat is also extremely well finished, inside and out, with attention to detail befitting of its pricetag.
The lockup cabin is of sufficient capacity to include a vee-berth, sink, Jabsco marine head and, in this case, an optional holding tank. There is also a sink and 40lt of fresh water, plus rod storage by way of four standard racks and an optional four-rod rack.
However, all that would be lost had the Journey 258 floundered or foundered in the heavy weather. On the contrary, the boat wasn't phased by the extreme conditions, which in turn provided a high degree of confidence and reassurance for everyone aboard.

 

 

HEAVY WEATHER CRUISER


The Grady White's bow-up attitude and big flared bow kept the water at bay at an eight-knot trolling speed where the Yamaha four-stroke 150s were quiet and economical, consuming just 10.5lt/h in total.
At 3200rpm, the boat's up and cruising at a handy heavy-weather speed of 18.4 to 20kts, depending on wind and tide. Some out-trim on the legs and a bump of the throttles and we were skipping along at a comfortable 22 to 23kts, while the motors drank 47.5lt/h for a safe range of more than 270nm.
At optimum cruising revs of 4000rpm, where the motors remain pleasantly quiet, the Journey 258 journeyed along at a speedy 26kts, which was still tolerable. But everything above this was too fat in the big swells. At 4500rpm back on the flat stuff I recorded 27 to 28kts, 5000rpm produced 32 to 33kts and 6000rpm returned a top speed of 38.5kts.
Over the years, Grady White has won over a loyal following and won plenty of those much-touted J.D. Power and Associates' awards for customer satisfaction. Besides that, plus annual events for loyal owners in America, and excellent resale value, the boats have stood the test of time wherever and whatever they have been subject to. Our test proves that point once again.

 

 

WHAT WE LIKED


Famous American fishing badge with excellent longevity and resale value
Seriously good engineering, construction and consideration for safety
Highly efficient hull with nice dry ride at moderate cruising speeds
Good fishing fitout and family friendly cruising comforts
Built for saltwater use and bound to provide years of faithful fishing service
Yamaha 150hp four-strokes are lovely motors
Prestige badge

 

 

NOT SO MUCH


Expensive boat that still needs a serious spread of electronics
High volume hull doesn't run quite as smoothly as some point-and-shoot performance centre consoles
Outboards are a long way aft of the cockpit, which could be bothersome when bottom fishing or fighting fish from a drifting boat
Tight foot-over-foot walkarounds and small foredeck

 

 

 

 

Specifications: Grady White Journey 258

 

 

HOW MUCH?


Price as tested: $198,171 w/ twin F150 counter-rotating Yamaha outboards, alloy I-beam Magic Tilt trailer with four-wheel brakes and options.
Options fitted: Anchor windlass, bow pulpit, hardtop with radio box and spreader lights, hardtop rod holders, 15ft alloy outriggers, marine head with holding tank, Kenwood marine stereo, windshield wipers, clear drop curtain and hardtop side clear curtains, cockpit bolsters, and additional 160lt long-range fuel tank

Price from: Approx $114,683 w/ single F250 Yamaha four-stroke outboard

 

 

GENERAL


Material: GRP, foam-filled stingers and hull
Type: Variable-deadrise deep-vee mono
Deadrise at transom: 20 degrees
Length overall: 7.50m (centreline length 7.425m)
Beam: 2.55m
Cockpit: 55ft²
Draft: 0.40m
Weight: 1960kg (hull only), approx 3300kg laden on road

 

 

CAPACITIES


Fuel: 480lt + 155lt
Water: 40lt

 

 

ENGINES


Make/model: Twin Yamaha Saltwater Series F150 four-stroke outboards
Rated hp: 2 x 150
Type: Inline four-cylinder four-stroke petrol outboards w/ DOHC and fuel injection
Displacement: 2.670lt each
Weight: 212kg each
Drives and props: 25in XL with 19in SS props

 

 

SUPPLIED BY:


Macarthur Marine,
1 Onelton Street,
Smeaton Grange, 2567, NSW
Phone: (02) 4848 7300
Web: www.macarthurmarine.com.au; www.gradywhite.com

Originally published in TrailerBoat #221

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